Last night I had to put my dog Sparky to sleep. I'm absolutely heartbroken, but I'm hoping that in telling all of you his story I'll feel better.
When I was living in Phoenix I decided that I wanted a chameleon for my birthday. My wife and I did research on how to take care of them, what sorts of habitats they required, what they ate, etc. Laura called a local pet shop and found one for me. She pre-purchased the lizard, a large habitat, some plants, food, some books, and the whole nine yards for our soon-to-be companion. She drove to the store and talked to the clerk only to find out that they didn't have a lizard for her. Sure, they already ran the card for all of the aforementioned except for the lizard, but no lizard. Well, it turns out that they had a little white Jack Russell Terrier in a baby cage sitting in the store. Convincing them to apply the already-paid amount to the price of the dog, she brought home this little bundle of energy. We named him Sparky, and he was my "little lizard". He was my little "birthday present."
Sparky was sitting in that cage for a while because they bobbed his tail too short. Their tales are supposed to be the length of a closed fist as they dive into holes (natural ratters) and you supposedly pull them out by the 'handle'. Well, Sparky's tail was about half that size. When he was excited he's shake that little nub for all it was worth. Sparky got a nickname "wiggle nub".
Sparky had an adopted brother and sister -- our two Dalmatians, Trouble and Sasha. Sasha didn't really like toys, but Trouble sure did. He would drag Sparky across the linoleum flooring via knotted rope while Sparky growled and tried to pull Trouble, even though Trouble was easily 3x his size and weight. Trouble sometimes let him win.
When Trouble passed away, Sparky stopped playing with toys. Two years after Sasha passed away we finally adopted again, getting Loki and Pazuzu. Zu would play with Sparky, and he began to enjoy pulling the rope again. He was an old man, but sometimes Zu would let him win. Sparky enjoyed pulling Loki (our Rat Terrier) around on the hardwood floor with the knotted rope. Loki loved it too, playfully growling the entire time.
Sparky had developed pancreatitis in his old age. He would suffer breathing problems for short bursts and then be back to his old self. Yesterday his breathing problems turned for the worse, and he simply couldn't stop hurting. He wasn't responding to his name, and when he went outside to pee he just collapsed in the grass. I carried him inside, but I knew in my heart it was time. The vet confirmed what we knew to be true.
As Sparky slowly slipped into his forever-sleep, I told my little birthday present that I would miss him, and that everything was going to be ok. He looked up at me with recognition for the first time since his attack started yesterday and then laid his head down for the last time.
I'm so heartbroken right now, but I know it was the right thing for him. I know he's in a better place. I'm going to miss my little lizard, my little birthday present, my little wiggle nub. Goodbye Sparky.